Wewahitchka moves to quash, dismiss firehouse lawsuit
On May 3, the City of Wewahitchka filed a motion to quash or dismiss Winterfell Construction’s lawsuit over the termination of their contract for the city’s new fire station in January.
The motion comes weeks after Winterfell mistakenly served their lawsuit to Jim Anderson, the City Manager of Port St. Joe, who was not involved in the firehouse contract or any subsequent discussions on the matter.
“The Plaintiff improperly served its complaint first upon the City of Port St. Joe City Manager, Jim Anderson,” the city’s motion reads. “The same summons was then used to serve the City of Wewahitchka city manager, Michael Gortman.”
“The service was improperly made on a City of Wewahitchka staff member, contrary to law,” it continues. “Florida Statute § 48.111 provides that service has to be made on the mayor or, in his absence, one of the officials listed or enumerated in the section.”
An emailed copy of the complaint was sent to Wewahitchka’s attorney. Michelle Jordan, in the days following the service of Jim Anderson. However, the City contests that based on precedent, this does not constitute proper service.
“That Defendant declined to waive service when Plaintiff’s counsel emailed a copy of the complaint to the City Attorney is not justification to excuse improper service,” the motion reads.
Winterfell’s lawsuit, which was filed in the Bay County Circuit Court, comes months after the city terminated their contract with the construction company over concerns regarding the quality and pace of the firehouse’s construction.
The city particularly cited concerns with the quality of the building’s siding and roof installation and the building’s concrete slab.
In the complaint, Winterfell claims Wewahitchka breached the contract, citing arguments that city processes significantly slowed or hindered the progress of the firehouse project and that Winterfell feels the contract was wrongfully terminated. The company, which is owned by Bay County Commissioner Tommy Hamm, is suing for damages, costs and other relief.
“The city and its representatives continually interrupted the subject project by instructing Winterfell to perform outside of the terms and conditions in the contract,” reads the complaint.
The construction company went on to allege that the city failed to sign necessary change orders in a timely manner, if at all, and that the city’s concerns over defective workmanship “would not prohibit the completion of the project.”
Southeastern Consulting Engineers, the engineering firm hired by the city to design and oversee the project, is also being sued by Winterfell.
They moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the same day as Wewahitchka, attaching a full copy of the original contract for the fire station with their motion.